Writing for style and shopping magazines is one of the most lucrative niches for freelance writers. These magazines target high-net-worth and high profile individuals and celebrities. They serve as the ultimate shopping guides, offering the latest news in celebrity fashion, makeup, style and hair makeovers.
Shopping/style magazines mostly target women who are college educated and have a “disposable” income. The average age is from 18 to 60 years old. Why such a huge gap in ages? Baby boomers want to look younger, and young women want to stay young. These avid shoppers crave the latest shopping trends to lavish their lifestyles. Not only do they want to look young and feel young, but they also want to live the “glamour and glitz” lifestyle. Besides investing in fashion, apparel and purses, they also share a passion to improve their homes with the latest and greatest kitchen accessories, furniture, and portable technologies.
You may be familiar with a few of the shopping and style magazines that stare back at you as you wait in line at the supermarket; they include: InStyle magazine, Lucky magazine, Ohio women’s magazine, OK Magazine, Flare magazine, Entertainment Weekly, and so on. The top magazine that owns this category is Lucky magazine, published by Condé Nast.
What articles are in demand?
As a freelance writer, you need to embrace the celebrity life because celebrities—like Oprah Winfrey, Kim Kardashian, and Lady Gaga—greatly influence consumer shopping, especially women between 18 and 30 years old. Even reality shows like Project Runway, Real Housewives of New Jersey, and Joan Rivers’ Fashion Police, influence shopping trends. Although these shopping magazines focus on a niche, the subject is very broad. Editors want articles about beauty, fashion, and the latest
tech gadgets. Any article about “social shopping” is highly in demand. Many shopping magazines have specific departments and columns pertaining to celebrity gossip and celebrity news.
Pitching your article to the editor
First, determine your level of writing experience. Then determine the editorial quality of the magazine. If your experience does not meet or exceed the quality of the magazine, then don’t waste your time pitching query letters to the editors. The top nationally distributed magazines, like Lucky and InStyle, are impossible to “break into”
for several reasons:
1) These editors are insanely busy.
2) These magazines receive—at least—one hundred queries a day.
3) The editors rely on an established pool of experienced freelance writers. They give repeat assignments to proven writers.
4) The percentage of new freelance writers per issue is probably less than 1%.
5) The editors work only with proven freelance writers who are known in this market.
If you lack experience to write for such magazines, then look elsewhere. You can find a gold rush of writing
opportunities with regional lifestyle magazines that not only have an appetite for publishing articles on shopping, fashion and trends, but they also pay very good. Also don’t forget about the many fashion and shopping niche websites that are easier to break into and will help you build up your portfolio while earning a paycheck.
When you are ready to pitch an article, make sure the editor is interested in your subject, and that the magazine has published similar subjects. Typically, you can review the magazine online and review its editorial calendar to gauge the interest level of a subject. This will also help you to
consider if your article fits into a specific timeframe.
When you write, evaluate your writing style: are you writing a news article or a general interest article? Is your article relevant right now? Or is your topic something an editor can publish a few months from now? Then, of course, take care of the obvious: make your word count fit the proper word length; check for misspellings, grammar and style (AP style, Chicago style). Avoid writing articles that are too controversial unless you have the experience in argumentative writing.
Ten Categories of Hot Article Topics
The current in-demand topics include the following:
1) Celebrity news
People love to read juicy gossip, which makes it one of the best subjects that a freelancer can write. You can write articles about celebrity news. These topics include “Who is dating who among celebrities,” “Trending celebrity hairstyles,” “Top Tweeting Celebrities,” “Celebrity Nightclub Dramas,” and so on.
2) Hairstyles and hair makeovers
You will always find numerous articles about hair and hairstyles in shopping magazines. Hair is
one of the issues that bother women the most. Editors like articles that cover “Current trending hairstyles,” “How to get that hair color,” “Your bad hair day makeover,” “Reasons to change your hair stylist,” and so on. Shopping magazines like to fit these type of articles in 500 word departments with one or two bulleted sidebars about which hair products to buy.
3) Simple but effective beauty solutions
Beauty and makeup tips are always in-demand topics that editors and readers crave. Some suggested topics are: “How to get rid of dark
under eye circles,” “When to toss off that makeup,” “How to fix a broken nail in a rush,” and “How to get the best out of your mascara.” Shopping magazines devote columns and departments to makeup tips, and editors often hire freelance writers to write a monthly or weekly column. It is essential that you provide photos with your article.
4) Shoe Shopping Guide
Women can never get enough shoes. Buying a pair of the newest Roland Mouret designer shoes is a conversation piece at parties and social gathers. A pair of shoes can blemish or
brighten a woman’s appearance. When writing about shoes, you can cover latest trends in shoes and offer a guide on the best shoes for different occasions. Some topics that you can write include: “How to take care of your shoes,” “How long should you wear your heels,” “The latest shoe fashion,” and “How to shop for evening shoes.”
5) A general shopping guide
Offer a shopping guide based on the latest celebrity trends. Here are some topics that you can write: “How to shop like celebrity,” “How to wear your denim,” “How to shop for your body shape,” and “Window-shopping
6) Fashion accessories
Here you talk about the latest and trendiest fashion accessories—from handbags to belts, purses, the best trends for the season, styling tips, jewelry, etc. Popular article topics include: how to wear the current trends; where to find the best deals; how to incorporate new pieces into a wardrobe; how to apply the most flattering makeup; which pieces are worth the splurge; and how to dress for your body type.
7) Charity events
Consider the season and you can write on subjects within the season affecting
women and the community at large. You can write about, “Breast cancer awareness,” “Real life stories of cancer survivors,” and “Celebrity charity events.”
8) Red carpet moments
An article can cover upcoming or recent red carpet events, like the Grammy Awards, The Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, the Emmys and so on. Discuss fashion trends at the latest red carpet events, discuss the winners, and discuss wardrobe malfunctions.
9) Fashion from across the word’s major cities
This is about fashion in the world’s major cities, upcoming fashion
shows, new styles, and trends, and all about celebrity fashion from across the world. Write about The London and New York fashion weeks, and upcoming fashion artists and shows.
10) Shopping for children
When adults are shopping, they always have their children in mind. You can discuss children’s fashion, children’s diet, and food choices.
How much can you earn writing for these magazines?
The average income a freelance writer can earn depends on many factors, such as type of magazine, type of distribution, quality of editorial content,
and type of article and length of article. A new writer is likely to earn between .10-.35 cents per word writing for regional shopping/lifestyle magazines. On average, freelance writers can earn from $20,000 to $60,000 per year. Experienced freelance writers who write for the highly-circulated shopping magazines earn from .50 cents to $1.50 per word.
Readers want to stay stylish. They want to read breaking fashion news, to find the best doorbuster deals, to shop stylishly, and to share their favorite things with like-minded stylish people at social gatherings
or online at Facebook.
Shopping has changed over the past few years due to the rapid expansion of Facebook and other social media sites which allow users to share their interests. Readers of shopping magazines want to learn about the best fashion picks, styling tips and beauty advice, and where to find the appropriate products to achieve results. When they find out that a beauty tip on skincare works for them, they Tweet about it or share the advice with their Facebook friends.
Shopping is always changing and evolving in many formats. When you research shopping magazines to
write for, you should also research how that particular magazine engages its readers with other publishing initiatives, such as running a website with original editorial content or publishing the newest issue to iPad or Kindle. These extra distribution channels may offer additional ways to pitch an article to the editor.
Tips on Pitching an Article
To submit your article idea, write a query letter that includes the following:
- Send the editor a fleshed out proposal with an outline. This can be a single, well-written query letter or story proposal that demonstrates your writing skills.
- Include a résumé or a summary of your experience as a writer or editor.
- Submit no more than three relevant clips.
- Specify the section of the magazine for which your article is intended. Get to know the regular columns and departments. In your pitch, explain where in the magazine you think your story would best fit.
- Convey your specific qualifications to write on this topic.
- Specify the proposed story length.
- Include possible experts and what access you have to them.
- Provide an explanation of why this idea would appeal to the magazine’s readers. Highlight the trend in your story pitch.
- Before you pitch, read some back issues to get an idea of the section or department that you’re targeting.
Here is a brief list of top shopping/style magazines in the United States:
Name of magazine
Name of editor
Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief
Experienced freelance writers can e-mail the editor or editorial department and request writer’s guidelines. If you do not have 5-10 years of proven experience, you should target local and regional magazines that constantly publish articles on shopping and style. You can research these magazines by using our free Writer’s Guidelines Database. You can find many shopping, fashion and style magazines that use freelance writers.
Where to Find Ideas for Timely Stories
You will never have a shortage of article ideas to pitch to shopping/style magazines. Here are some places to research the latest shopping and style trends:
1) Google News
2) CNN.com Fashion — http://topics.cnn.com/topics/fashion_and_style
3) USA Today Lifestyle — http://www.usatoday.com/life/lifestyle/index
4) Twitter feeds — https://twitter.com
5) Yahoo! OMG! — http://omg.yahoo.com/
6) Yahoo! Buzz Log — http://buzzlog.yahoo.com/overall/
7) Google Trends — http://www.google.com/trends/hottrends
How hard is it to break into top tier shopping magazines for new writers?
Here are a few reality checks:
“Our editors work almost exclusively with experienced writers who have clips from major national
magazines. As a result, we accept unsolicited manuscripts only from writers with such credentials. There are no exceptions. If you do have significant national writing experience, and you have an idea or manuscript that you think might interest us, email us and please include some of your most recent clips.”
“We cannot guarantee that your submission will be read or commented on; it is by far most likely that we will get in touch with you only if we are interested in pursuing the idea you propose.”
“We cannot accept e-mail; and hard-copy submissions will not be considered. If you do not yet have national experience, we look forward to hearing from you when you do. We also extend our regret that if you send us a manuscript, we will not have the time to read, comment on or return it.”
“If our staff decides to pursue your idea(s), we will contact you directly to discuss. Due to the large volume of unsolicited queries we receive, we’re unable to respond to every proposal. If you don’t hear from us within 90 days, please assume that we’re not interested.”